After a very successful year in the Overwatch Contenders Series in 2018, Blizzard has announced several changes to the competitive system in the upcoming 2019 season. We covered some of the changes in our Contenders 2018 Season 3 recap, but now we have some more information on the upcoming season as well as what is at stake.
After nearly 20% of players made the “path to pro” via the Contenders leagues in the previous season, Blizzard decided to double down on the development of the competitive Overwatch scene by strengthening the Contenders leagues with all of the academy teams, as well as extensive trials before the season kicks off.
The biggest changes to the previous system will be the League “crunch” from 12 to 8 teams in each region. The change comes with the idea of increased competitiveness and strength of each regional league as well as a promotion/relegation based system that keeps the best teams in place but also gives space for newcomers to establish themselves on the scene.
To this end, the Trials for 2019 Season 1 are well underway in several regions. The participating teams in each region are selected from the worst performing teams in the previous Contenders season and the best performing teams from the Open League. They compete in a round robin style group phase after which the top teams will advance to the Contenders 2019 Season 1 Group stage.
For a full breakdown of all Trials teams in each region follow the link: Overwatchcontenders.com » Trials
The top performing teams from the Trials will battle the Academy teams from the Overwatch League as well as select teams from previous contenders season who also receive an automatic invite to the Contenders season,
The European and North American Trials commence this weekend on the 8th and 9th of February respectively while the Korean Trials finish on the 10th. The China region has already completed their trials and the teams: SFDD and Team For Victory have secured their place in the 2019 Contenders Season 1.
Once the trials complete in each region the regular season will commence featuring a round-robin style system after which the best teams will head into playoffs to crown the regional champion.
Once the first season finishes all of the regional champions will make way for the midseason Atlantic and Pacific showdowns which we have already covered. The worst performers on the other hand (bad performing Academy teams included) will have to battle in the Trials for Season 2 against the top teams from the Open Division in order to remain in the league or face relegation.
After the Atlantic/Pacific showdowns and the Trials for Season 2 the Contenders Season 2 of 2019 will follow the same system as before.
To mark the end of the competitive season, we are treated with “The Gauntlet”. 10 teams from each region selected by their performance in the Contenders season, will battle for the title of the ultimate Contenders champion.
*Contenders events for 2019 will take place after the conclusion of the Overwatch League playoffs.
The league has committed approximately 3 million US Dollars for the Contenders scene and the seasonal events as a commitment for continued development. The 2019 Contenders Season kicks off Feb. 24th with Contenders Australia.